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5 Tips for Introducing New Technology to Your Board

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Tommy Kline on ASC technologyThis article is written by Tommy Kline, administrator, Hampden Surgery Center.

While most organizations have processes they would like to improve, it is not always easy to get everyone behind new ideas. This is particularly true in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) when introducing new technology. Gaining board approval for new technology is often a challenge.

There are a number of reasons surgeon owners are resistant to new technology. In addition to cost and an opposition to change, it is often difficult for surgeons to recognize there is a need to change processes. Many times the surgeon is far removed from the most time-consuming processes such as pre-admission. Nursing staff spend a tremendous amount of time phoning patients in advance of a procedure to gather medical histories and insurance information. Then there is the manual process of keying this information into a system. Because patients are often unavailable or unprepared for calls, it is not uncommon for multiple calls to be placed to a single patient. The process is inefficient and time-consuming for nursing staff yet many surgeons are unaware of these issues as they have little to do with this process.

Fortunately, advances in technology are enabling ASCs to greatly streamline time-consuming, inefficient processes such as pre-admission. However, before you introduce new technology to your board it is important to do your homework first. It is up to you to convey there is a need for a change and to demonstrate how this change will positively impact your facility. When presenting this information to your board you must be concise, strong bullet points are often best.

Having recently brought our pre-admission process online using One Medical Passport, I have developed a checklist of points you will want to address within your proposal. It is with this level of information we were able to successfully secure board approval to bring this system and many others into Hampden Surgery Center.  

1.    Show savings. Sell your board on the business side of technology by showcasing its potential to increase revenue.
For our facility we were able to quantify the costs associated with substantially reducing the amount of hours nursing staff spent on the pre-admission process. By saving 15 - 20 labor hours a week for two nurses, we are able to save an estimated $33,000 in annual wages by bringing the pre-admission process online.

2.    Highlight ease-of-use.
Technology should simplify processes, not create additional headaches for users. Showcasing the ease-of-use of the technology you select is very important. Spotlight any key features that will simplify use of the technology such as a user-friendly interface, helpful prompts, and drop-down menus. The technology you select should be easy for everyone that uses the system including facility staff and patients.     

3.    Promote efficiencies.
One of the main benefits of technology is the ability to streamline processes to make them more efficient. Improved workflows, a better way to gather and share information, are just some of the efficiencies facilities can achieve with technology. For example, built-in audit trails and automated notifications such as the flagging of high risk patients are features that improve processes. Tying efficiencies to higher patient satisfaction, improved patient safety, lower costs and other facility improvements is key.

4.    Demonstrate ease of implementation.
When people hear the word "implementation" they often perceive a long, drawn out process that requires many meetings, tests and tweaks. Selecting a technology that is easy to deploy and requires minimal staff training is important to securing board buy-in.

5.    Talk security.
Healthcare-related data breach news continues to top headlines, spotlighting the security shortcomings of many systems. Be prepared to demonstrate the security features within the technology you are proposing and its ability to meet HIPAA and other relevant compliance mandates. Ensure the technology you select is fully secure. Complete geographic redundancy and backup to ensure the safety and availability of information is something your board will want to see.

Technology is rapidly changing the healthcare industry. In addition to improving processes and creating greater efficiencies, it is enabling ASCs to deliver a higher quality of care to patients. For many facilities, it also provides a competitive edge. By properly educating your board on the many advances technology has to offer you will achieve faster buy-in, a smoother transition and a quicker time-to-value.  

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